Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Oh The Things I Have Seen

After witnessing the political unrest in Egypt, I realized that in my lifetime I have seen some pretty incredible things.

When I was in my early teens a man named Phol Phot stirred up a group of farmers living on the border of Kampuchea (Cambodia).  These farmers were outraged because their farms were being bombed due to the Viet Nam Conflict/War.  They blamed the U.S. for the bombings and decided to follow Phol Phot and take control of  the government and the country.  At such a young age I didn't realize the genocide that followed.  I later learned of the atrocities and also the bravery of the Kampuchean people to escape communism from the Viet Namese who later overtook the Khmer Rouge.  I heard these heart wrenching stories while serving an LDS mission in Los Angeles, CA.  Many of the refugees had been transplanted in the LA County area.  I never believed that the Viet Namese stronghold would ever loosen, but it did.  Years later the Kampucheans were given their country back.  It still faces many problems but the strong are trying so very hard to restore the country to what it once was.

When I was a junior in high school I watched as a group of Iranian militants overtook the U.S. Embassy and held 66 people hostage.  Some hostages were able to escape, a couple were released, but 52 remained in captivity for 444 days.  I celebrated with the rest of America when they were finally released.  Among those hostages was an Arkansan Soldier who grew up not far from where I live now.  This uprising and taking of hostages came about as a retaliation against the U.S. for allowing the overthrown Shah of Iran into the U.S. for medical treatment.  Throughout this ordeal, President Jimmy Carter lost favor with a majority of Americans.  Ronald Reagan was elected our new President and just minutes after he was sworn in the hostages were released.

Also in my teenage years Apartheid was taking place in South Africa.  In the late '70's an anti-apartheid activist named Steve Biko was tortured to death. Another activist, Nelson Mandela, had been arrested and sentenced to life in Prison when I was just a baby.  Nelson Mandela later became the President of South Africa.  He was the first South African President elected by white and blacks.

The Phillipine activists fought against a leader, Ferdinand Marcos, who had left their country in a financial crisis. Rebels in Nicaragua tried to overtake their government.  As a young adult I watched the Berlin Wall fall and the celebration that ensued as a divided country came together. I watched in horror as a group of Chinese students took a stand against Communism and ended up losing their lives.

I also recall that an electrician in Poland felt that workers in this communist country deserved rights.  He co-founded the first independant trade union and later became the president of the country newly freed from communist rule.  I also watched in disbelief as the Soviet Union collapsed. Who would have guessed that this stronghold of communist rule could ever be disbanded.  I watched as a group of terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York and gave all Americans a wake up call that our land was not immune to tragedy.  It later changed our perspective on peace when the terrorists flew planes into the twin towers and thousands were killed.  We were quick to retaliate as a nation and entered into a war on terror that is still ongoing.

Since then several dictators have fallen and countries are now struggling under a new government. 

I have also been blessed to see good things in my lifetime.  I laughingly recounted a lot of the things we did and didn't have as I grew up when my two teenage daughters lamented about how they needed their own cell phones.

I remember thinking I was so smart when I was able to stretch the phone cord under my bedroom (the phone was right across the hall on the wall) and in a contorted shape with my head inches above the floor I was able to carry on private conversations with my friends!  If I only had a picture now of that hilarious sight and only realized then that when you are speaking to someone right at the space between the door and the floor that you might as well just broadcast the conversation.  That privacy I thought I had so smartly engineered was only in my imagination. We've now gone from twisting cords to cordless and even wireless communication.

I remember being introduced to my first computer when I was a freshman in college.  My roommate was a computer science major who needed my typing skills.  From that moment I was hooked and did everything I could to learn more about computers. 

I remember watching our family adventures on reel to reel projectors.  Now I can create a movie from my phone and share it with the world.

Remember when someone in the neighborhood got their first microwave?  We all stood and watched this amazing machine warm up a drink or a little food.  I was so astonished that you could cook food in this thing and eat it! 

I guess living a half century has me looking back and things with wonder.  I confess that I am truly amazed that we were able to survive without all these luxuries...and that now we are truly stymied when something goes wrong with our new technology.

A New Coffee Cake To Try

The BEST Coffeecake Ever

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on November 19, 2012

Streusel For Center of Cake

1 stick cold salted butter

¾ cup flour

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

3 teaspoons cinnamon

Streusel For Top Of Cake

1 sticks cold salted butter

1 cups flour

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

3 teaspoons cinnamon

Make each streusel in exactly the same way…Add the cold butter to a medium sized bowl and then add the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it is all incorporated and resembles a coarse meal. The one made with less flour will be softer. Store both in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.

First prepare both of the streusels and keep them in the freezer or refrigerator until ready to use. Roast and chop the pecans and chop the dark chocolate into small pieces and set aside. Prepare the batter and pour it into your paper- lined cake pan.

1-1 ½ cups dark chocolate mini chips or shards (I used 1 ½)

1-1 ½ cups chopped, roasted pecans (I used 1 ½)

For cake:

1 ½ cups whole milk

3 stick butter, room temperature

6 eggs

3 cups sugar

4 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups all purpose flour

1½ cups cake flour

3 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons salt

In a small microwave safe bowl, add the milk and butter together and heat until the butter has melted, then set aside. In a separate large bowl, add the eggs, sugar and vanilla and whisk together until all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Sift all of the dry ingredients together into a separate bowl. You are going to add the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the liquid in 2 additions. We do this to prevent any lumps from forming because there is a good bit of liquid to incorporate. Begin with adding 1/3 of the flour into the eggs and whisk well, then add half of the butter/milk mixture and whisk again. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients until you have achieved a smooth batter and everything is well combined.

Pour in half of the batter and add all of the streusel made with the ¾ cup of flour.

Top this with the pecans and dark chocolate and pour the other half of the cake batter on top. Add the other streusel all over that will create a lovely crunchy top and bake this at 350°F for 30-40 minutes until the cake is golden brown and tests clean…do not over bake.

When cool, drizzle the milks sugar on the cake and set aside until ready to serve.


Coffeecake (makes 1-14” square cake)


2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

5 teaspoons whole milk

2 teaspoons vanilla (I increased from 1 teaspoon)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring Deliveries

Yesterday was a busy place at the Bisbee residence. 

Roisin went into labor and delivered 4 little kittens.  One kitten was stillborn but the other 3 are doing fine. 

At the same time that this was going on, my brothers brought us two baby squirrels that had been abandoned.  They don't even have their eyes open.

Since I seem to be the haven for all strays (how else could you end up with 5 cats, three newborn kittens, and 2 baby squirrels!) I was fully prepared to bottle feed the squirrels with some pet formula that I happen to have in my fridge.  I was not looking forward to getting up every few hours to feed them when I had to be up so early to teach seminary.  Four thirty in the morning comes really early, especially when we had to "spring forward".  Then I had this amazing idea! What if I slipped the squirrels into the basket with Roisin?  Brilliant idea!  I placed the baby squirrels in the basket and she didn't seem to mind.  After a short time she began grooming them.  It took the little squirrels about an hour to warm up to Rosie and then, Voila!  They began nursing.  Before you know it, they are cuddled up with the three kittens just as content as can be.

I must confess.....Life is good.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in the Rock

We all worked hard to get all the trees up and decorated even as Hattie thought it was a
new toy to climb.

No matter how hard we tried, she continued to climb.

We finally decorated the tree and hung our stockings by the chimney.
Hattie and Simon each found a little place to call their own.

Hattie continued to climb the tree not letting ornaments slow her down,
Simon preferred the soft blanket beneath the tree,
and Sebastian preferred to be completely away from all this mess.

Our Christmas was a simple one this year.
We elected to stay at home and celebrate rather
than travel.  I think the
kids enjoyed it much better.
Traveling is fun but there really is no
place like home!

I confess that this truly was one of our best Christmases!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Little Trip To New York

I went to New York last week to help pack up Sarah's things.  She is moving back to Little Rock for a while to prepare for more Grad School.  For some reason the girl wants a PhD...go figure???  I am really proud of her but am most happy that she is back home with us for a while after her 2 year stint in Manhatten.  Anyway, I digress.
Back to the trip....My sister, Lynne, Sarah, Sarah's Grandmother Ratliff, and I set off on a little road trip to see some sights, take a break away from responsibilities, and pack up Sarah's stuff. 
These are just a few sights we captured on the way up.
Hershey, Pennsylvania

Aren't these streetlights so cute? They varied from chocolate to silver wrapped.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Isn't this so neat? Don't worry, we were very discreet with the camera and didn't directly photo anyone.
New Jersey

This was mounted on top of a car!

Can you guess what this picture is all about?  Is she throwing a fit? Collapsing? Asleep on the floor?

Well, it's a little of all three.  She collapsed in a hysterical, laughing fit that completely exhausted her.  We were all very tired and had just checked into a room.  We were attempting to collect all our luggage and enter the room.  Grandma Ratliff went first and apparently I wasn't quick enough to catch the door before it closed in our faces.  Grandma went through the room completely unaware that Sarah, Lynne, and I were waiting and laughing hysterically in the hallway.  We finally got her attention and she kindly opened the door for us.
I must confess that, luckily, we were able to get Sarah packed up without much fuss and even make it back to Little Rock just barely ahead of the big North East snow storm.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Organic.....Is It Worth It?

You would think with a title like this I would be talking about nice green, clean veggies and fruits......Guess again!

Yesterday my trusty Sherman the Tank (non eco-friendly big white Suburban because that is the biggest vehicle to fit all my family without driving a charter bus) needed a little oil added to his motor.  There is a gas station right up the street from my house, so I go there to buy a quart of oil that is completely overpriced ( a whole other story).  While I am standing in line, the girl in front of me is buying a pack or "organic" cigarettes!  Yes, you heard me!  Now, call me crazy, but isn't it kind of silly to be worried about your tobacco leaves being organic when you are about to assault your body with deadly smoke, nicotine, tar, etc.  Get my picture?  So, after the young lady leaves I ask the store clerk if I'm going crazy or if this girl just bought a pack of "organic" cigarettes.  The clerk laughed right along with me.  She was a smoker and even she got that a cigarette is a deadly stick and it probably makes little difference if the tobacco leaves are sprayed with a pesticide or not.  Maybe the "organic" cigarettes won't shorten your life span as quickly as the "non-organic".  Perhaps you can gain an extra 45 minutes by making this choice.  I wonder how much more expensive these are?????
So, to all you healthy smokers out there I ask, Organic...Is it worth it?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Halloween With The Bisbee's

I'm just a little late posting our Halloween pictures, but I had so many to sort through.

Here are our pumpkins all ready for carving.  They were picked out with great care!

Hattie wanted in on all the fun.  She inspected all the pumpkins and deemed them ready to be carved.

Bailey was a little put off by all the pumpkin "goop".  How can you maintain perfect cleanliness and carve pumpkins?  When someone has an answer could you please let us know?  By the way, she was Bella for Halloween.

Brenden wasn't able to carve pumpkins with us but he enjoyed all the pleasures of Halloween parties and trick or treating.  What a great Ninja!

Bryan thought he was a little too old for Halloween this year...you know, being 14 makes you practically and adult!  He did help carve a wicked, scary cat for us.

I think Caleb might have had the most fun carving this year.  Could it be because he only had to pick out the template and then cheer his Mom and Dad on while they carved his "Freak Spider"?  He was so proud of himself for picking out yummy cookies to enjoy while all the festivities were going on.  Don't you think he makes a good "Scary Skeleton"?

Kristen really enjoyed carving her pumpkin.  Nothing about it bothered her.  She is far too daring to use a template.  She just carved what she felt and it turned out great.  She enjoyed being Alice from the Twilight Series.

We were so happy to have Sarah home with us this year, Manhatten has had her for far too long!  She carved a great Edward profile from the Twilight Series.  Bailey was ready to fight for the template but Sarah won out.

Here are the finished products!  Aren't they great?  It's too bad that we didn't have a single trick or treater darken our doorstep this year.  I guess these guys were just a little too scary for them.

Nana enjoyed the warmth of the fire while everyone created.  Aunt Earline had just gotten home from the hospital earlier that day so we didn't want to stress her too much by taking pictures or moving the hooplah around her.  She enjoyed the nice fire all comfy in her special chair.

Cecil was kind enough to take the kids trick or treating this year since it was right in the middle of a great Razorback football game.  Lynne and I got to stay at my house and "Woo Pig Sooieee".  We then enjoyed the fruits/candy of the kids labor!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Purpose And A Plan

     I was talking to a friend tonight and observed her crocheting a scarf.  I asked about the pattern and who she was making it for.  The answer gave me a new purpose! 
     This friend works with adults that suffer from mental illness. Tragically, most of the people she works with are also homeless.  She is making scarves and hats for them to protect them from the cold.
     I am an accomplished knitter, so I have decided to put my skills to work for those who are less fortunate than I.  Here is a scarf pattern I picked out.

     I want the scarves to be pretty and functional.  I think this pattern will work great.  I was also thinking I might use this pattern for a hat.

     And I think I want to make these mittens...

     Hopefully these will be functional (very warm) and pretty.
     I might even find some simple, beginner crochet patterns and get Kristen to help me make some things.  She loves to crochet.   I love to knit with a purpose!